Grilling season is imminent, and if you survived a cold, brutal winter, you’re probably more than ready to get on with it. But not so fast… before you fire up the BBQ this spring, give your charcoal or gas grill a little TLC to ensure it looks and cooks its best all summer long. Here’s what that entails.
Gather Your Supplies
Before you get elbows-deep in cleaning your grill, gather the supplies you’ll need:
- Rubber gloves
- Dish soap (Dawn is an excellent de-greaser)
- Sturdy sponge
- Clean rags
- Microfiber towel
- Stainless steel cleaner
- Steel wool soap pads
- Grill brush
- Paint scraper
If your grill has seen better days, but it still works perfectly, you can touch it up and make it look new again with high-heat spray paint on surfaces that don’t come into contact with food.
Once you’ve got everything you need, put on the rubber gloves to protect your hands from tough grease, and get ready to tackle the grill.
How to Clean Your Gas Grill
Cleaning and maintaining your gas grill before you use it each season results in better-tasting food and safer operation.
Clean the Exterior
Start with the outside of your grill. The elements can do a number on its appearance, and last grilling season may have left behind smoke stains and food remnants. Fill the bucket with warm, soapy water, and use the sponge to clean the lid and the outside of the bowl. Rinse with the hose, and dry it with a clean rag. If you encounter tough stains, use the steel wool soap pad to remove them. Use stainless steel cleaner to buff the grill to a high shine.
Scrape the Bars and Grates
Remove the bars and grates from the interior of the grill. Use the stainless steel grill brush to remove cooked-on food and other debris. A ball of wadded up foil also works well for this. Use the paint scraper for hard-to-remove particles. Once the grates are free of burnt debris, give them a good scrubbing with the steel wool soap pad, rinse them well with the hose, and set them aside to dry.
Examine and Clean the Burner Tubes
Use your stainless steel brush to remove any debris from the burner tubes. If the burners run north to south, brush the tubes side-to-side. If they run east to west, brush them up and down. Rinse them thoroughly with the hose.
Scrub the Bottom and Finish Up
Remove the bottom tray, and empty it into the trash can. Use the paint scraper and stainless steel brush to remove any stuck-on debris. Replace the flavorizer bars and grill grate, then close the lid, and turn the grill on high and leave it for 15 minutes to burn off any debris that’s left and to ensure it’s working properly.
How to Clean Your Charcoal Grill
To clean your charcoal grill, start with the exterior, giving it a good scrubbing with warm, soapy water and a sponge. Use the steel wool soap pads to remove tough stains.
Clean the Underside of the Lid
Check the inside of the lid for built-up carbonized grease, which may have the appearance of peeling paint. Scrape it off with the paint scraper, then follow up with the stainless steel grill brush. When the worst of it is gone, use the soap pad or a sponge and warm, soapy water to remove any remaining grease.
Scrub the Grate
Remove the grate, and use the stainless steel brush and warm, soapy water to scrub off the cooked-on debris. Rinse with the hose, and set aside to let it dry. If the crud on the grates or the interior of the grill is stubborn and doesn’t want to come off, spray the area with a mixture of equal parts of vinegar and water, and let it sit for an hour to soften it.
Clean the Bottom and Finish Up
Dump out any charcoal and ashes from the bowl of the grill. Use the stainless steel brush and paint scraper to remove the cooked-on debris. Follow up with a good scrubbing with the steel wool soap pad. Rinse with the hose, and replace the grate.
Get Your Tools Ready
Inspect your grilling tools, and run them through the dishwasher before grilling season commences. If you’re missing any of these essential grilling tools, or if your tools are loose, rusted, or otherwise damaged, invest in new ones:
- Long-handled lighter for your charcoal grill.
- Long-handled tongs to move and flip your food.
- Long-handled spatula to flip the burgers.
- Long-handled basting brush to apply sauces.
- Long-handled stiff-wire grill brush to clean the grates.
- Skewers for shish-kebobs.
- Instant-read thermometer to check for doneness.
- Large, sturdy platters for the cooked food.
- Fire extinguisher to put out serious flare-ups.
- Grill light for cooking after the sun goes down.
- Paper towels to keep things tidy.
- Garbage can.
For some, grilling out is simply a way to cook food without messing up the kitchen. For others, grilling is an event, a way of life. If you’re one of the latter, a few extra accoutrements can spice up your grilling experience. A wireless speaker lets you pipe tunes onto the patio while you grill. A sturdy apron keeps you clean and provides pockets for storage, and koozies keep your beverage nice and cold despite the heat of the grill. And finally, invest in a high quality cutting board and a super-sharp knife set to make slicing meat feel like you’re cutting butter.
The better prepared you are for grilling season, the less work grilling out will be. Once your grill is in shape and you have all the tools and equipment you need to concoct an outdoor feast, all that’s left to do is sit back and wait for the arrival of grilling weather. Happy spring!